Skip to main content

tv   Charlie Rose  WHUT  May 31, 2012 6:00am-7:00am EDT

6:00 am
>> rose: welcome to the program. tonight, donald rumsfeld, forme5 secretary of defense, talks about war and peace, america today. >> and there is a tendency for people to think "well, i'm only one person, what can i do?" it's kind of so big and so hopeless and i don't feel that way. i think that people need to know that america's important in the world and they are important in america's success and helping to guide and direct this country and they do have an impact. by defending good people in public office, by writing letters, by voting, by helping candidates, by writing letters and i think people ought to recognize the strength they have and the wonderful opportunity they have to make an impact.
6:01 am
>> rose: we continue this evening with fawaz gerges, the director of the middle east center at the london school of economics. >> the most important actor, really, that has emerged in the last 15 months is the emergence of a new public opinion an awakened public opinion in that part of the world that would like to take a charge of its ow& destiny. an awakened public opinion that basically opposes not only the united states, any kind of control and domination, including the authoritarian leadership? the region and i think's uncertainty now but once the dust settles in the arab world you're going to have a new world. a new world that basically will not accept america's dominance. >> rose: rumsfeld and gerges when we continue.
6:02 am
captioning sponsored by rose communications
6:03 am
from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: donald rumsfeld is here he was secretary of defense under president george w. bush from 2000 to 2006. he resigned in the midst ofest schrating public criticism of the iraq war. rumsfeld began his career in the 1960s as a three-term congressman from illinois. he joined president richard nixon's cabinet and served under presidents ford, reagan and bush 43. his memoir "known and unknown" is now out in paper back and it chronicles everything as his time as a middle east envoy to one of the president's closestt% foreign policy advisors. as the u.s. ends tour two wars and faces turmoil in the middle east, i'm pleased to have donald rumsfeld back at this table. welcome. >> thank you. >> rose: we talked for 30
6:04 am
minutes about this book, this is the paper back. let me just ask this question. suppose i pore over this. >> which i hope you will. >> there will be a quiz the next time i see you. (laughs) >> rose: i'm sure. look at you run for congress right there. >> think of that. with the hat on in 1962. >> rose: chicago, it must have been cold that day. >> indeed. what do you want us to know about donald rumsfeld other than he had this long and high level experience in public affairs. >> i think a couple of things. i've lived with a third of our country's his o)gñ that says what a young country it is and what an interesting sweep it's been and what a privilege it is to serve. we have a web site that supports the book and if raw you read a paragraph from a mepl you can go to the web site and pull out the entire memo and see it. one of the things on there was a
6:05 am
speech given by adlai stevenson in 1954 to my senior class in college. >> rose: which was princeton? >> it was. i went to princeton on a scholarship and... >> rose: a wrestling scholarship oring a d.e.m. snick >> academic.u i was a wrestler but they?'ñ givef!j[ athletic scholarships there. i ended up transferring over and getting a naval r.o.t.c. scholarship finally before i went in the navy. but the speech was by adlai stevenson who was a governor of illinois back in years before, lost to eisenhower twice and he gavoxej speech that was so inspirational and it's on my web site and i hope that... what would you like to know? i think that the thing that is in my book and that he said in that speech is the responsibility that individual citizens have not just to serve in government and serve in the military but help guide and direct the course of the country. and there is a tendency for people to think, well, i'm only
6:06 am
one person, what can i do? it's kind of so big and hopeless and i don't feel that way. i think that people need to know that america's important in the world and they are important in america's success in helping to guide and direct this country and they do have an impact. by defending good people in public office, by writing letters, by voting, by helping candidates, by writing letters and i think people ought to recognize the strength they have and the wonderful opportunity they have to make an impact and i hope that comes out of this book. i dishgs you think this is the decisive moment in our history as we face a presidential election? >> >> i hate to overstate anything but i think it is important. i don't know where a tipping point comes. but we do know that civilizations and great nations
6:07 am
don't die slowly. they die fast. all of a sudden... i mean, think of the soviet union. in one moment it looks like everything's okay and then all of a sudden it isn't okay. the legitimacy was gone. >> an economic base was gone. >> and the economic base was gone. and i look at our country and we know we now have something like mid-40% of the american people receiving from the federal government and you worry about who they're going elect and will their vote be cast to have more come from the federal government." i think it was mrs. tacher that said the trouble with socialism is at some point you run out of other people's money. and we're getting there. we can't do what we're doing as a country and behave like western europe. >> rose: bo do you think it's because we're becoming or trending to socialism? >> i don't want to use words like that because it... i don't think we're a socialist country from that's what you're asking.
6:08 am
>> no, you quoted mrs. tacher. >> i did. >> rose: and she faced america as to what you think of america... >> there's something abouta way people handle other people's money compared to how they handle their own money. and we worry about it in government. we've seen what's going on with the g.s.a. and we worry about an incorporation and i think it's enormously important that people recognize that we cannot spend ourself into prosperity. >> do you take some accountability for the fact that the administration that you served fromvz1c 2000 to 2008 ben with a surplus and ends with a huge deficit? >> the... the implication of your question needs to be disaggregated and commented on. >> rose: go ahead. >> in the eisenhower, kennedy,
6:09 am
and johnson years the united states spent 10% of gross domestic product on defense. plus or minus percent on defense. any implication that the department is what's causing the deficits is misleading. >> rose: i didn't say department. i said the administration which you were part of. >> i know you did but i... >> rose: over@ds eight years wet from a surplus to a huge deficit. >> that's true. that's true. and i think it's dangerous for the country to... for us to be as weak as we are and toñ spending as we're spending and not recognizing there's a terrible f[ that. >> do you think we've lost the ability to deal with our severe problems?:y1r when you look at... we're now facing one more time something called a fiscal cliff, we've got the bush tax cuts coming up, we've got the sequestration coming up from the last time they tried to deal with they>
6:10 am
deficit. we've got all these things coming to a decisive point, end of december, beginning of january. and the congress has not been able to, along with the president as a participating negotiator deal with it. >> i'm, suppose an optimist from birth. >> rose: so am i. it's always half full from me. >> and i look at what they're doing and i think to myself are we going to go off a cliff? i don't think so. why don't i think so? well i think that at a right moment people will recognize the inadvisability and the damage that can be done. personally i just can't imagine that with the joblessness, the unemployment and the weakness of the economy people would think about raising taxes. it just sounds mindless to me. >> rose: well, you just signaled... part of the reason for raising taxes is because the deficit out there is so huge
6:11 am
unless we do something about it, as they say, we will be like those european countries that are tottering because they've got... they've not dealt with their debt and their debt is overwhelming them and they've got a growth issue as well and they've got to stimulate growth but the debt is something that people on your side of the aisle are saying "do something about." principally the tea party. >> charlie rose, the idea that the intake is too low as opposed to the fact that the spending is too high is to simply... it doesn't face reality. >> rose: okay but it does not face reality, either, to say you can take care of the deficit just on the spending side. because every group of people-- even bipartisan people like simpson-bowles have said it's got to come from both places. and as long as one side or the other... as long as the democrats don't deal with entitlements, as long as republicans are not willing to deal with revenue then you will not deal with the deficit.
6:12 am
people like tom coburn sit at this table and make that very same point. >> sure. sure. well the reality is that the problem we're facing is a result... a direct result of entitlement spending. that is where the money is going out. >> rose: well, wars too. >> you could abolish the department today and it would not balance the budget. >> rose: there's no argument we have to deal with entitlements. no argument. >> but we aren't. >> rose: is there an argument on your side we need tax reform? >> sure, absolutely. now let me explain... i was in business for 20 years. you can sit down in chicago or new york or atlanta and say where do i want to invest? where do i want to put a plant? where do i want to have a marketing facility and you look at the tax structure and you look at several things. you look at crime, you look at education but you look at the tax structure. we are not competitive. if you raise taxes we will be
6:13 am
less competitive. the growth side of this is critically important. >> well, you could do a range of things, you can also eliminate deductions. >> sure! no question. >> rose: but some people say "that's raising taxes." whereas the argument that was made by simpson-bowles is let's reduce the corporate tax rate but let's limit those deductions. >> i think there's a lot in that proposal that makes sense but in the last analysis we have to look at what we do and compare it with other countries... >> rose: i'm just... >> because people across the globe will8qwm12c want to invest and we need the growth. we clearly need the growth but we have to be competitive. >> rose: needing the growth is the president's argument. he said if you go to hard on the side of austerity... what he said at the g-8. if you err at the side of austerity you have to have growth and you have to have growth as well as deficit reduction. >> i think simpson-bowles had some very good things in there and i think tax simplification is a highly desirable thing.
6:14 am
>> we are now winding down and have wound down the war in iraq. what's going to happen there in your judgment? >> they will make mistakes. they'll stumble. they'll have ethnic tensions among the... >> rose: all that's happening. >> yes, the kurds. they'll have to find their way and people will look at it and say, well, it's not working or this problem. and then i think about the united states of america and i think about what we went through just a perfectly horrible civil war. hundreds of thousands of people dead. women didn't vote into the 19th century. slaves into the 1800s. we did not have a smooth path. they're not having a smooth path. and they won't. it's going to be tough. how do they get from where they
6:15 am
are to where they'll end up? i don't know the answer. >> rose: do you still)g they would become when you began to drew up the warplanes to invade sneshg >> the president said he wanted to change the regime and that was accomplished. the country now has a stock market, it has new books, the most brutal dictator is gone: the country is prospering in many respects. and it is uneven and bumpy and the politics are immature. the maliki government is not a model for the... for the future, i would think. it's something... something other will replace it at some point i'm guessing. >> rose: do you have any self-doubt about the wisdom of that war? >> oh, you always do. >> rose: what is your self-doubt? >> i don't know that self-doubt is what i would say. >> rose: your own participation
6:16 am
in the decision-making process. >> the president made the decision. >> rose: he clearly did and he takes responsibility. >> and i... >> rose: you were a principal advisor. you and dick cheney and colin powell. >> condi rice. >> rose: condi rice. >> and a lot of other people. >> of course. >> and other countries participated and the congress voted in favor and the u.n. resolutions all... >> rose: now that we know... you had a list of things that could go wrong which you showed to me and others at the time. >> not at the time but afterwards. >> rose: right after the invasion. soon after the invasion i remember you took it out of that standup desk in your office. >> is that right? >> rose: yes, sir. >> i was worried a lot about things that could go wrong. it's in my web site. it's called the parade of horribles. and i sat down and thought what are the kind of things that could go wrong and listed a series of them. >> rose: sectarian conflict was one of them. >> exactly.
6:17 am
but war has to be the last resort and i was hopeful to the very end that the president and the united states and the coalition would be successful in getting saddam hussein to either acquiesce and agree with the united nations or leave the country or that he could be killed in that first attack. >> rose: came close, didn't it? >> he wasn't even there. >> rose: didn't you start early because you had evidence he was going to be there. >> i didn't have evidence the c.i.a. did. and they came to me and they went to the president and they said "we've got a guy on the ground who thinks he's there, who knows he's there, who says he's there. and that he's underground and the president asked all of us what we thought and each one of us said we thought if we could avoid the war by attacking him there we should do it. the president ordered the attack and it started an hour or two before it was due to start. and then they brought a body out and someone said that was saddam
6:18 am
hussein from an intelligence report on the ground. that he's on oxygen or something. and he wasn't. it was somebody else. >> rose: where was he? >> i don't know. it's one of the hardest things we've got to face is the difficulty of gathering the kind of intelligence you need to live in a dangerous and difficult world with weapons of growing lethality and increasingó availability. >> help me understand this historically. hank crumpen was just on "60 minutes." >> rose: so was he? >> rose: and they talk about the time they thought they had to get him in tora bora. what was your role and what did you advise or did it come to you for a decision? >> never came to me. i never heard a word from george tenet or general franks. >> rose: did they make decisions not to go after him and to open up and say somebody else is going to go after him?
6:19 am
>> no, they did go after him. they pummeled... >> rose: crump on the was the head of the c.i.a. in afghanistan. you remember that. >> of course. >> rose: of course you do. but there was an opportunity and there was a decision not to go. you know about this. >> i've read about people saying this. new hampshire is he's a man that would you would respect. >> sure. >> rose: what he did in afghanistan when they overran the country with the help of the northern alliance. >> and you don't think the u.s. special forces... we'> rose: so three forces together in the a matter of days. >> they did a wonderful job. >> rose: but if he had not been assassinated it might have been better. >> let me answer your question. >> rose: please because i want to historically understand this. >> i can't give you the history because all i know is my slice.
6:20 am
i know that at me moment did the c.i.a. or the combat and commander in central command come into the pentagon with a request for something that was turned down. it did not happen. i don't know what went up the c.i.a. chain to tenet tenant, i have no idea, and i never bothered to go back qqhv ask. i know that the u.s. military, general franks and the combatant commander poured enormous amount of air power into tora bora. i know it was... my recollection is that it was ramadan and the forces on the ground were northern alliance forces or eastern alliance forces and that theyim0 went during the day andn evening they stopped and ultimately al qaeda people who probably were there but i don't know they were there and no one ever pinpointed them as being there to my knowledge eventually
6:21 am
were able to get into pakistan. they were very knowledgeable about the tora bora mountains. it's a hostile area and had we had... the commander came in and said if we do something... >> if our forces do this we can get it. >> then the question is how long would it take to get those forces in. >> rose: i think it was within sight. >> no, nonsense! >> rose: how close was it? >> i don't know. but they certainly... what might have been. >> rose: i don't mean line of sight but within some proximity. >> no, that's not my understanding at all. >> rose: can i just say with great respect? >> sure. >> rose: i believe... i believe that youra about such an event that you'd want to know exactly what happened. >> i do know exactly what happened from my perspective. >> rose: you just said you haven't asked george tenant once. >> i haven't gone down the line. >> rose: just call up george tenant and say "this is a question about historical curiosity."
6:22 am
>> did you get any request from crump on the or somebody down the line that you didn't repeat to thepresident or me? i could ask him that. i think he would have told me. i mean... >> happened? let's assume somebody made that decision >> there are people at every agency in the military and state department who see things from their slice, their perspective. and they get an opinion and they say this is what we ought to do or somebody else ought to do and they go up to the next level. i can assure you that no one got up to any level anywhere near me or the president suggesting anything should be done or was done. >> rose: because after osama bin laden there was no higher target than to get osama bin laden. >> exactly. and they were working their
6:23 am
tails off to do it. >> rose: you would want to communicate down the line... >> and that signal went down. >> rose: if anybody has any way to get this guy i want to do everything we can, i do not want to pass it off to somebody else. >> and you can be certain those were the instruction it is president gave and i gave and tenant gave. >> rose: then what happened? >> everyone has a different view from their slice, their perspective and they think, gee, somebody else should have done something. no up with ever came up to franks, to my knowledge, and no one ever came up to tenant or tenant would have called me. i don't even need to ask george tenant. >> rose: he would have called you and said... >> called me dozens of times during the course of that and said i've got this information, what do you think we ought to do? i say let's go to the president and get it done. we did that any number of times. >> rose: let me shift to what happened on the mission that accomplished. and they went to abbottabad and they found him and they killed him.
6:24 am
this is what... this is what the... your successor, robert gates said to me in williamsburg a couple weeks ago. roll tape. >> what i think people don't realize that made the decision tough for the president was we didn't have one single piece of hard data that he was actually in that compound, not one. the whole thing was a circumstantial case built byr-h analysts at c.i.a. and we quizzed those analysts very aggressively in terms of their case and in terms of their confidence and the confidence level of those who built the case ranged from 40% to 80% that he was actually there. the crux of the decision revolved less about the efficacy of the military piece of it than the consequences for us if he wasn't there in terms of the relationship with pakistan, in terms of the war in afghanistan, if the pakistanis shut off our supply lines. if the pakistanis were even more
6:25 am
aggressive in supporting the taliban and so on. so that was why i said it was a very gutsy call. >> rose: do you think it was a gutsy call by the president? >> i don't. i first should say that bob gates is a very capable man and everything he said is perfectly plausible. i would add a dimension to it. we have made attacks in pakistan on repeated occasions and you do have to take into account his point in terms of our relationship with the pakistanis. clearly we're going into a foreign country that we're not at war and bombing and attacking. we do it sometimes with drones and bombs and sometimes with troops and so his point isn't a valid one, you want to be careful about doing that. on the other hand, from my perspective we have a... i take it that what he was arguing for was not sending troops in but...
6:26 am
>> rose: obama? >> right. and i would argue the opposite case. >> rose: you would argue that the case that the president accept it? >> exactly and the reason i would argue with that way is this. if you send in some cruise missiles or send in some drone hellfires?uor missiles and desta place you're not going to know what was there. you're not going to know if you got him for sure immediately, you're not going to know what any of the evidence in there might provide. >> rose: treasure trove of intelligence. exactly. and therefore it seems to me if the united states spent a decade looking for him having had opportunities to catch him in the '90s and turning them down--. >> rose: agreed. >> rose: you spend millions of dollars and lives trying to track down osama bin laden and you have 40% to 80% or whatever bob said confidence in your intelligence. >> rose: 87%, i think he said.
6:27 am
>> it seems to me it's a 15-minute decision in the first 14 are for coffee. not a... for me not a conflict. >> rose: i hear you're saying... he said he listened to that argument and he thought... he thought he could answer some of the objections you had that they probably would find evidence there and there was reasons to believe that he worried not only about the pakistani response but he also worried about getting those men out and that was important... that was an important consideration. could they get them out. because he said to me when that helicopter went down there was a lump in his throat. >> of course. >> rose: because he was in the c.i.a. at the time that jimmy carter tried to go into iran which you remember as well. so you're so certain you would have made the same decision that the president did? the president went to gates and gat]gz said i understand, i appreciate you gave me your best advice, i appreciate it, i'm going to think overnight and make a decision. and you're saying it's simple? >> i didn't mean simple.
6:28 am
i think i president made the right decision. could it be wrong? you bet! >> rose: with enormous consequences. askh"kç jimmy carter. failed mission. >> listen, our special forces in the jimmy carter era were so early in their evolution. you don't understand. you can't imagine the difference in competence and capability and the investment we made and the talent with these people. we doubled their authorities, we've improved their equipment, we've increased their numbers. they have gotten better and better and better, they're the finest warriors on the face of the earth. >> rose: but everybody agrees on that >> they don't all agree on that. >> rose: the secretary was worried whether they'd come back. >> you always worry. >> rose: it's not they didn't have confidence these were the best and brightest and most skilled warriors on the planet. but that... >> we took the investment that the obama administration benefited from, the capabilities they have were developed during
6:29 am
their predecessors and each president... >> rose: meaning the bush administration? >> exactly. >> rose: and prior clinton and prior to that the clinton administration and prior to that the reagan administration? >> exactly. every president has available to him what's left to him by his predecessors. >> rose: and they build on it. >> and they build on it. and these capabilities after a decade are superb and to not have used them, to not have taken that investment and those talents and those skills and taken advantage of what we could find out in there i think would have been a different... >> rose: i don't think that secretary gates was the only high-level official that was admonishing the president that maybe there were better alternatives. i think there were others as well. >> there might have been. i think the president made the right decision. >> rose: i'm trying to ask you do you think it was a courageous decision and you seem not to want to say that. >> i guess i don't think it was. i think if i'd been in the room and i would have recommended what the president decided and he could have gone either way.óo
6:30 am
as i say, bob gates is a fine, talented man and his whole comment is... was plausible and not incorrect in any way. i come out on the other side. i think i come without the president was and i think he did the right thing and i think it would have been a mistake to just lob some cruise missiles in there. >> rose: did the fact that we invaded iraq having v negative consequences for afghanistan. >> not to my knowledge. >> rose: historians are arguing that issue. >> yeah, they will. and iñ cent comm that that's not the case and i... what we did do was we sent that our special operations forces would not be assigned to a specific theater afghanistan or iraq. they would be given to the central command and they could put them%= entire area of responsibility that they wanted to.
6:31 am
so they moved them where they needed them. and the idea that... we have relatively few forces in afghanistan.j and i personally think that we do not want to be seen as an occupier of afghanistan. >> rose: but we were an occupier of iraq. >> and... at... but we had a different role. that was regime change. and the role was to drive out the taliban and drive out al qaeda from afghanistan. that's what the congress acted on and what the president decided. i worried about afghanistan getting too heavy. it's a poor country, a lot of illiteracy. unpleasant neighbors. landlocked. ten years of soviet occupation. multiple languages, tribal, not central and the idea that we
6:32 am
could nation build for them i think is not likely myself and i felt we should keep a relatively light footprint and that they would figure out a way to make that thing work for them. and they're doing that. >> rose: is it fair to say that you also were looking forward to a relatively light footprint in iraq? your idea, go in there and destroy the regime and get out. that was your conceived plan. >> the plan that the central command does a military plan and part of the military plan is a post-major combat operation plan. and it was to transfer responsibility at some point to iraqis and there was debate in the administration as to howçx fast to do that. i personally favored doing it more rapidly. others felt it should be done more slowly. >> rose: who were the others. >> other people in the administration. paul bremer, for example.
6:33 am
he... jay garner wanted to do it more rapidly. >> rose: was jay garner your man? >> no, neither one of them were my men they were both... he was a former general who had a lot of respect in iraq. >> rose: jay garner? >> jay garner. i thought he would do well.p k1h service officer and very close to the state department and each one took on a darn tough job. >> rose: as you said serving the country the way ambassador ryan crocker has gone back. >> crocker is terrific. >> rose: he's now coming home because he's sick, as you know. >> yeah. but i have a relatively modest impression of what americans are capable of doing in a foreign country in terms of nation building. i think that people have got to figure out those things for themselves.
6:34 am
i don't think that our template of democracy fits in other countries just as our current template didn't fit in our country early on. it's something that evolves and i think what you have to try to do is to do what you need to do to deal with your national interest. in this case getting the al qaeda out of there and changing the taliban government and they fashioned a constitution. >> rose: do you think it's going to work out? >> i hope so. >> rose: everybody hopes so.$i on it. >> rose: so in other words the president has done the right thing. he set up a timetable to withdraw. >> it's an art not a science. who knows when you should do it. it's like taking the hand off the bicycle seat. you're running down the street and if you take it off they might fall and skin their knee. >> rose: bear with me. i have a hard time imagining you having a conversation with a series of generals and saying "it's an art not a science, it's hard to tell here." your reputation is not... >> that's exactly what i said. >> rose: will you serve in a
6:35 am
public position again in your life? >> i'm 80 years old in july! charlie roads, my goodness gracious. >> rose: (laughs) it's done, new >> i've had a wonderful life and i've enjoyed it and feel privileged to serve. >> rose: what do you worry about the most in terms of the future of your country? >> weakness. >> rose: that's most likely to come from our structure than our defense posture? >> both. >> rose: and what's the problem? we talked about... >> it's perception. >> rose: the perception that we're not prepared to act. >> the perception that we're weak economically. the perception that we're cutting the defense budget by a trillion to a trillion two over the next decade. the perception that... >> rose: thought you were in favor of cutting spending. >> i am and we did. there's always things you can cut in any big bureaucracy and i believe in going after them. >> rose: when you went to the pentagon the second time having been the youngest secretary of defense, when you went the second time my impression is that you went in there and said "i'm going to make this a leaner stronger more agile."
6:36 am
>> yeah. and we did a lot. we did a lot. we didn't complete... >> rose: >> first of all it's(é completed. you don't go for from untransformed to transformed. it's a process. it's a continuum. and we made enormous progress. some people think that oh, my goodness, when 9/11 came all bets were off and that ended any transforming of the department. quite the contrary. we rebalanced our forces around the world. we vastly improved our relationships with india and countries in southeast aa, australia and singapore and vietnam. we've had a chance to improve the housing and the circumstance of the troops. we've increased the special operations forces. we put in a national security personnel system so that we can begin to make effective use of the... >> rose: what's one specific thing? >> we made enormous progress! >> rose: one specific thing which... secretary gates is very proud of the fact that he was
6:37 am
able to accelerate the protection of the armored units better, make thet better because of land mines and... did we do enough before he took over to make sure? because you remember you had a question raised when in your opinion iraq. >> kuwait. >> rose: kuwait. somebody raised their hand and you said "you fight the war that... what was your quote. >> you go to the war with the army you have, which, of course, is obvious. it's a truism. it's not original with me. you have those capabilities. but what we did was we got... the vehicles that were... did not have the proper armor were told to get into protected areas and they made a crash effort under general montgomery nigs to bring the armory into a much more accelerated pace and clearly that was continued under my successor bob gates.
6:38 am
>> rose: thank you for coming. it was good to see you. >> (laughs) >> rose: this book is dedicated-- as it ought to be-- to joyce. >> it sure is! (laughs) 56 years married. amazing. long time. someone said that it's the first political memoir of the information age because i took four years and digitized so much of that archive. >> rose: and you can go on wur web site and see it. again, donald rumsfeld known and unknown, a memoir. back in a moment. stay with us. >> >> rose: fawaz gerges is here, he is the director of the middle east center at the london school of economics. he's spent his career studying the relationship between the united states and the arab world. in his new book he analyzes the fast-changing region and america's new place in it. it's called "obama and the middle east, the end of america's moment." i'm pleased to have him here
6:39 am
back at this table. welcome. good to see you here since you moved to london. >> thank you for having me, charlie. i'm delighted. >> rose: why is this the end of america's moment? >> well, first of all it's the beginning of the end of america's dominance for a variety of reasons. because i think i would argue this particular moment has been postponed after the end of the cold war. there has been a voult brewing against america's dominance in the region for the last 30, 40 years, culminating in the 9/11 wars in the 9/11 wars exacted, charlie, a heavy toll not just on america's moral standing and reputation but also on the perception, the widespread perception in the region, that the united states was involved in a social engineering project. that the united states was dominating, subjugateing, humiliating arabs and muslims.y america's military presence in iraq and other places basically intensified, escalated this particular revolt.
6:40 am
not to mention the economic costs the... the american decline. but the most important factor that has emerged in the last 15 months is the emergence of a new public opinion, an awakened public opinion in pa that part of the world that would like to take charge of its own destiny. an awakened public opinion that opposed not only the united states, any kind of control and domination, including thev# authoritarian leadership in the region and i think that there's uncertainty now but once the dust settles in the arab world you're going to have a new world, a new world that basically will not accept america's dominance and won't accept any kind of foreign domination, will not accept authoritarianism and autocracy and also the emergence of what i call geostrategic pouper ins the region. the vying for influence. turkey, iran, now egypt. multiple factors explained the beginning of the end of america's dominance in the region and this goes back... has
6:41 am
little to do with barack obama. this goes back to the cold war years culminating in the 9/11 wars. >> rose: do you think america wants to dominate now? >> and this is the beauty of... >> the end of america's moment is a good thing. it's a good thing for arabs and muslims. because as you know for many years widespread perceptions exist in the part of the world. the united states was behind everything. america's hidden hand was moving everything. this was the idea. america's support for authoritarian leadership? the region was at the heart of the problem. america was responsible for the ills and misfortunes for that part of the world. the end of america's domination shifts the focus to what what's happening in the region. america is no longer seen as the culprit. think of what has happened, charlie, in the last 15 months. no american flags have been burned. no major talks of american andeñ western colonialism. the focus is on what?
6:42 am
local tormenters. the dictators who promised heaven and delivered that. barack obama-- and this is a very important point-- say what have you about the barack obama presidency, barack obama has indirectly helped shift the debate from the poisonous foreign policy and the social engineering project to basically saying "look, people, america is keeping a healthy distance, we welcome... we will embrace your aspirations, you take ownership of your revolts." in this particular sense the obama presidency has played a key role in the beginning of overcoming what i call the bitter inheritance between america and the that part of the world. >> rose: so let me go to specific countries. what do you think is going to happen in syria? >> syria is a very, very complex and i know it's sounds cliche. the political struggle in syria has already turned into an armed struggle. syria now is at war, civil war.
6:43 am
chaos is spreading all over syria. literally the rock has set in. kidnappings on a daily basis, assassinations, car bombings, suicide bombings, the syrian government is losing control in part m parts of syria. the armed rebels are becoming much more potent and much more direct in their attacks. the reality is this particular struggle that has already become civil war will be b basically take a long term to play itself out for a variety of reasons. first the opposition remains deeply divided and the syrian government, despite everything that has happened the security apparatus remains intact, remains cohesive and also-- and remains to america the syrian crisis, charlie, has become caughting in a fierce regional struggle between iran on oneg hand and saudi arabia in the other hand and also in a russian-american rivalryfsñr and that's why the syrian crisis will likely be with us for a
6:44 am
long time because it's no longer seen as part of the arab spring uprising. it's a complicated situation. >> rose: and nobody wants to send ground troops from the outside? >> think about it. the security council has been neutraliz> this was the received wisdom and i would go further to say this was part of the psychological war waged against assad. i have no doubts in my mind that assad will in the be with us
6:45 am
here in the medium term asij=i opposed to the short term. his ship is sinking for a variety of reasons. he lost legitimacy inside syria huge part of syrian, overvádr o longer wants assad in place. so much bloodshed, international legitimacy, how long can he survive and also he's losing control of many parts of syria. if you go to some parts now, just two days ago people are being kidnapped, assassinations, car bombings. so the idea... i don't believe assad will be at the top of the helm in a while. i don't know how... that's the question. >> rose: but you don't know what comes next. >> rose: sere... syria... my fear... my fear is that syria... and i know a bit about syria, i was born in a civil war in lebanon myself, i became conscious of the civil war, my family shipped me to america as a young man it smells like civil
6:46 am
war. it smells like civil war because of the spreading chaos and violence. anyone who can leave syria is trying to leave. in particular professional classes, educated people. this is what happened to us in lebanon in 1970. exactly what happened in iraq and that's why, charlie, syria smells like civil war. my fear is not that syria is not at civil war now. my fear is that the beginning of civil war might turn out into all out civil war that would destroy the social fabric of the country. that's why i would argue the united states, rightly so, has been very reluctant to plunge in and send a military force or intervene militarily. >> rose: as we tape this, we're in the middle of presidential elections for egypt. what might be the turnout there? white whatçfwt.j government and what would it look like and who would friends be? >> first of all, the beauty about what's happening in egypt is we don't know what who's going to win. you know as well as i do that the polls are very have tile. the fact that we don't know who's going to win is a
6:47 am
testament to how changed egypt is. this is the freest election since 1952 when the military9 the beauty about what's happening is that there's a sense of empowerment. egyptians know this is not the end. this is a building block in a system that will take a long time to basically emerge to take place. the reality is now you have a parliament, you have a new president, i think the divide is between moussa, who was the foreign minister, a mainstream politician and between an islamist, a centrist islamist, we're not talking about radicals or militants. either one will likely play a key role in what i call the institutionization of the political process. it will take a decade or so for egypt to emerge out of its broken situation. egypt now is really broken
6:48 am
economically, there are a few institutions. it's going to take time. there's a lot of dust and what i really would like your viewers to take out of it is that we should not be blinded by the dust. because it's going to take... like most transitions it's going to take a long time. in particular the damage that has been done by authoritarian leaders in the last 15 years. >> rose: how long will ito"íarq the arab world to sort out of this out so you understand what the new power dynamics and relationships are? >> the most important step in arab world today whether you're talking about tunisia or morocco yemen, libya, syria, other places, you cannot put the institutions. without the institutions you can't talk about anything else. parliaments, presidents, you have to institutionalize the relationship between the military and civilian leadership. you have to create economies. egypt, charlie, is 88 million
6:49 am
people out of that you have 40 million egyptians who live either in poverty or beyond the poverty line. that's less than $2 day. over 50% of egyptians in some areas, 50%, in particular among the youth, unemployment. in tunisia, 50% unemployed. literally waste land so you have to put the institutions and then of course you have to focus on the economy. >> rose: whoever gains power these govern. >> and this goes back to a t obama administration. the 9/11 wars are overcome in the sense that people are not looking at america as the hegemon. they're looking at really the challenges facing their societies. >> rose: not looking for anybody as hegemon? >> no, there are no hegemons. >> there are two other factors at play before we go. one is turkey and iran, neither of them are arab countries but they have enormous influence in the region.
6:50 am
there's also the split between sunni and shi'a. talk to me about both of those. >> let me be blunt about iran because in america there'ssutf misconception about iran. iran is a failed model for the arab world... and i'm being very blunt, for the islamists and arab world, i'm talking about the muslim brotherhood, i'm talking about the islamists in morocco and egypt iran is not a model. iran is failed as a political entity the so called rule of the cleric has turned into what? an authoritarian system. and economically the mullahs have turned iran into dismal economy for a variety of reasons. turkey is the example. turkey is an inspiration everywhere you go. >> rose: because of its economy, secularism, what? >> two reasons. turkey now is at peace with itself. it's a muslim country and democratic country. it has relations with western
6:51 am
powers. it's also an islamic country. the largest growing economies in the world, the 17 largest economies. it's institutionalized. that's why... because the whole idea is that islam and capitalism enforce one another and the debate in the united states does not take into account how much islamists, the so-called religious activists have evolved over the last three four decades. i call them the new capitalists. even in egypt if the muslim brotherhood comes to power they're going to be the new capitalists. they believe in free marketcí capitalism. the islamists in tunisia as well and morocco. turkey is an example. it reminds them that islam and capitalism are not incompatible and also the reality is there is harmony between authenticity, identity and western democracy. >> rose: sunni shi'a.
6:52 am
>> this is the new poison. this is flag that threatened to destroy the arab world from yern to bahrain to lebanon to syria to iraq it's doing a great deal of harm. it started as a political struggle, a struggling for freedom. it has taken now more and more sectarian connotations. it has spilled over into lebanon in the last few days in tripoli and beirut iraq remains... say you have you about the prime minister of iraq. he's seen as a sectarian politician. bahrain, the political struggle in bahrain has also turned sectarian. even though there are no differences between shi'a and sunni the two major... i mean camps with within islam, this is political because both iran and saudi arabia are using directly the sectarian card to mobilize their followers so even though
6:53 am
the struggle is political and ideological it has taken on sectarian... that's why the war. >> rose: and what do you think of the possibility of somehow palestinians getting together. that there will be a reconciliation between fatah and hamas. >> i think it's real and promising and i think what has happened in the arab world has really convinced the leadership of both hamas and fatah that there's no other way and the palestinian public is demanding. it will take a long time because they have entrenched interests but the palestinians are moving in that direction. how long it will take, i don't know. egypt is playing a major role. >> rose: qatar is trying to get them together. >> exactly. one point for you that hamas has shifted from the iranian base camp to the gulf arab camp and this is a major shift because it's no longer looking towards
6:54 am
iran >> and where's hazard looking. >> hamas is anchored in the iranian city. and the leader, hassan nasrulla has done a great deal of damage by pu than once. he's done a lot of damage to/$ region as well. >> rose: and all the things we've been talking about develop on one track moving forward to be sorted out. does any of this have any impact on the relationship between the arab world and israel? >> yes, absolutely.lz it does as long as... i mean, the israeli leadership view what's happening in the world as a promising moment. think what the israeli prime minister has been saying. day one in egypt. he's terrified that the aab world is getting rid of its dictators. he's terrified of the political uncertainty. he's terrified and it could be terrified but the question on the table is that... and that's
6:55 am
about the emergence of a new public opinion, an awakened public opinion. israel and the united states are really making a major strategic mistake to underestimate that deep down yes the focus on domestic politics once the dust settles the palestine conflict remains the most fundamental questions for arabs and muslims. >> rose: the book is called "obama and the middle east." fawaz gerges he's director of the middle east center at the london school of economics. thank you. >> thank you. >> rose: thank you for joining us. see you next time.
6:56 am
6:57 am
6:58 am
6:59 am